After being thwarted – twice – at last year’s Great Escape and having never actually made it inside the Dome for a show, I decided this year at Great Escape 2013, I had to do it at some point. What better line-up to go for than Everything Everything, supported by BBC Sound of 2013 wunderkinds Kodaline, eh? But first, John said he just had to take me for fish and chips at Harry Ramsden’s. He explained that years ago when he was small his father had taken him there and Harry Ramsden’s was the be all and end all when it came to chippy tea. And what better place to have fish and chips is there than by the seaside? I was all for it! (For the record, it was very good. I will say however that the waitress was less than accommodating when I asked her for a place to charge my phone…)
Besides John’s own trials and tribulations before he left Lincoln, this trip for me had been full of technological glitches and miscellaneous mistakes: my mobile charger broke into pieces literally minutes before I boarded my flight in Washington; my laptop charger bit the dust in Manchester 4 days into my trip, which meant I couldn’t do anything on my laptop for nearly 3 weeks; I left a jumper in the wardrobe of that house in Manchester (though the woman I stayed with kindly posted it to Martin’s house in Gateshead); my suitcase ripped in two places; I lost my hat in Brighton, etc. etc. So really, as we’re walking down towards the pier to the restaurant, a seagull jumping out flying from a nearby fountain and spraying us didn’t faze me as it normally would. “John, did that really happen? Did a seagull just pee on us?” We just looked at each other and laughed.
After dinner, we went our separate ways, and I decided I wanted to see Girls Names one more time. The Belfast band, if you recall, were one of my favourite ‘new’ discoveries of SXSW 2013, and I was lucky to have run into them at B.D. Riley’s, the Irish pub on 6th Street, later that week and interviewed them. They were playing Coalition, where we hosted a stage in 2011, starring headliners White Denim and a then-unknown Foster the People. However, I’d not been there previously. I then understood what John meant when he told me the place just oozed of character; the brick arches reminded me of SXSW 2012′s Hype Hotel where I’d seen Oberhofer. Coalition isn’t just a cookie cutter venue, it’s got loads of charm. I will say however that within Coalition, like other venues down by the seaside (Digital, Life, the former Horatio’s, etc.) you haven’t a prayer of getting a mobile phone signal, so if your intention is to meet someone at one of these places, your best bet is to get in contact with said person before you go into the mobile phone dead zone.
Prior to Girls Names, the previous act was running a bit late. Candelaria Saenz Valiente, the frontwoman of Pictorial Candi, part of the large ‘Don’t Panic! We’re from Poland!’ contingent, was wearing a flowery shirt, which made me initially think she was going to be yet another Florence and the Machine wannabe. Not so. She’s a DIY punk rocker; from what I read, she doesn’t know how to play the guitar very well, though is very dedicated to the music-making and creative process. What’s more punk than stepping on a lime with heels on, eh? When not playing her guitar, she also has this spastic dance that is not unlike the robot moves of one of my football idols, Peter Crouch. Unfortunately for her, I remembered the dance better than the actual music.
Next up at Coalition was Girls Names. There was a photographer to my left that I came to admire as the set went on; at the start, just like me, he had his camera at the ready for the start of their set. Then, in a split second it seemed, he turned from professional into a headbanging punter, his long hair and beard flying. I don’t really think of Girls Names as a headbang-eliciting band, but I was happy to see that based on this one bloke, they were obviously doing something right, causing someone to go completely mental at only half past 7 on the first night of the Great Escape. They recently released the official video for ‘Hypnotic Regression’ (previous Video of the Moment here); the bass line of the song alone sends me into ecstasy, so getting to hear it again live was a treat. From what I’ve seen online, they’re currently being paraded on BBC Introducing, which is fabulous news for them. I can’t wait for more people to hear them and be taken in by their at times jangly and other times washy guitars.
From there, it was a hike back up the hill to the Dome to sort out my press pass. I’m glad I went early, as there was some confusion as to where I was supposed to queue to get my guestlist pass, and then I learned even with my photo pass, I wasn’t allowed to shoot in the pit. That was disappointing. Still, not all was lost. When you step into the lower level of the Dome, there’s something wrong with you if your breath is not immediately taken away. It’s a grand place, much posher than probably most of the acts that would grace it that weekend were used to. (I am positive John will have some lovely gems of prose when he gets to describing the sold out Bastille show there on Saturday night.)
There was already a reasonable-sized group of kids already down the front who were just raring to go; remember that this was one of the few all ages shows at the Great Escape. I groaned inwardly as some under 18s were talking about the time they snuck hip flasks of vodka into a gig somewhere else; I’m sure by the time they reach drinking age, they’ll have forgotten this inane conversation. I also chuckled to myself as a hip hop song came on over the PA and the girls in front of me were humping air to the beat; this is where Western music has gone wrong and why Radio1 has a stranglehold on our children’s listening habits, isn’t it?
Earlier that afternoon, I interviewed Steve Garrigan, the lead singer of Kodaline, outside the Dome in the sun. We talked about how this appearance of theirs, supporting their friends Everything Everything, was their Great Escape debut and how absolutely massive this opportunity was. He and the other guys were, unfortunately, horribly jetlagged too, having just flown in from Toronto, having supported the Airborne Toxic Event on a tour of North America, their first real taste of touring our continent. Apparently I have a bad habit of scaring bands before the biggest shows of their lives (you’ll see in an interview with the Crookes I did in London last week, which is forthcoming on the site), though there was no way you would have known anything was the matter when they took the stage at the Dome Thursday night. Like the consummate professionals they are, they confidently took this opportunity and went for it.
The only other large place I’d seen them was the Thursday night at the Hype Hotel at SXSW this year, having supported the Specials, so the Dome was a major step up. I’m positive thoughts of “what if we don’t go down well in a place as big as this?” crossed their minds, but if Kodaline were worried, they shouldn’t have been. The sound that admirably filled two different stages at Maggie Mae’s and the Hype Hotel in March sounded huge at the Dome, and there were definitely Kodaline devoted in attendance, judging by the frequent, young girl squeals of delight. To be honest, even I was surprised, with each single and song from their previous EPs they played getting incredible response and even forthcoming album track ‘Perfect World’ going over well too.
Everything Everything are riding high at the moment, having headlined the Arts Academy the second night of Liverpool Sound City, where I’d caught them a fortnight previous. I wondered how this Dome performance would differ from the Liverpool one, and if they could match the energy. Not only did they match the intensity of that previous show, the lighting for their set at the Dome far surpassed anything I could have imagined. You know how Muse tends to go over the top with lasers? The lighting rig for Everything Everything complemented the rhythms of the songs and made for a more complete and entirely enthralling experience. ‘Kemosabe’ in this context was huge; the crowd demanded ‘Cough Cough’ at the conclusion of the encore also benefitted. I don’t even know if I want to see EE in a club again, because I’m not going to ever have the same experience again.
This night, Everything Everything played ‘MY KZ, UR BF’ and oddly, I didn’t react as manically to it the way I expected. No, it was because ‘QWERTY Finger’ made an unexpected appearance in the set list; it’s probably my favourite off ‘Man Alive’ and I didn’t think I’d ever witness it live. Earlier in the day, I had introduced John to guitarist Alex Robertshaw, when I’d learned that they were both from Guernsey. Now I was watching him rip it on his guitar, and I loved every minute of it. If Everything Everything could play venues like Brighton Dome every night, I am positive they would be the next biggest band on the planet.